All Superheroes Must Die (a.k.a. Vs.) (2013)
I know, I know; it’s a pretty lame title for a movie (I like the original title, VS., better), but don’t judge this book by it’s cover. ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE is a fantastic film with great acting, a fun, original story, and a really satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed this one. What a great way to begin 2013!!
The first things you’ll notice here is that we have a very small cast (I’m not just referring to the principle cast, I’m talking about everyone who appears on screen) and we have only a few different filming locations. Yes, we’re in the realm of the low budget, indie horror-thriller. Putting aside these two elements you’d never know that the estimated budget for ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE is around $20,000!! This has the look, feel, and acting ability of a much larger budget. The story opens with four superheroes regaining consciousness in a warehouse and quickly finding out that they have been kidnapped by their Arch Nemesis, Rickshaw (the always great, James Remar). Rickshaw tells them via intercom that he’s sick and tired of always losing to them and he wants them to feel what it’s like to lose all the time. So he sets up various traps all around an abandoned town and makes the superheroes “compete” to try and disable the traps and save innocent people.
What I enjoyed most in ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE is that the story just immediately grabs you. There’s no drawn out introduction where we get to “meet” the superheroes and learn about their powers. As the film opens the viewer is as much in the dark about what’s going on as the superheroes are. The four superheroes are Charge (Jason Trost), Cutthroat (Lucas Till), Shadow (Sophie Merkley), and The Wall (Lee Valmassy). Other than their names we know nothing about them. Hell, we don’t even learn their superhero names until around 10-20 minutes into the film. Rickshaw has also injected them with some kind of serum that took away their super powers. By the end of the film I wasn’t even sure what each of their super powers were, and that didn’t bother me. What their super powers could do wasn’t what this film was about. What they could do without their powers was.
We also quickly learn that the four heroes used to work together as a team but have split up some time ago. Egos, personal relationships, jealousy are some of the causes of the split. Now they must work together, sans powers, to try and save a town full of innocent people. The structure of the story is terrific as it jumps right into the action and then gradually, through flashbacks, we learn about the four heroes’ origins and their falling out. Their origins is much like the film CHRONICLE. In fact it’s fair to compare ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE as being a blend of CHRONICLE and SAW. All the traps are rigged by Rickshaw who, remember, wants them to know what it feels like to always lose, and lose they do. There’s lots of bodies blowing up all over the place, for sure. And besides a few guts wounds with intestines hanging out, this isn’t a very gory film. Instead we get a fast pace, a really compelling story (especially in the way it’s unraveled), and best of all we get great acting. Trost, who wrote and directed and also plays the lead character, Charge, puts some great actors in the roles of the superheroes and gets some fun cameos. Playing the villain, Manpower, is Sean Whalen, who’s been in countless genre films including THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, DOPPELGANGER, LAID TO REST, and 2009’s HALLOWEEN 2 (and will be in the upcoming HATCHET III). And none other than anythinghorror.com fav, Nick Principe (ChromeSkull himself) plays the role of super villain Sledgesaw.
What will also grab your attention here is that there’s a lot of deep characterizations and character growth going on in ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE. I hate to use this cliched phrase, but we really do get ‘behind the mask’ of each character and learn a lot about them. The four of them were all human beings before they became super human beings and they all have human problems and insecurities (CHRONICLE also examined this element successfully). We don’t end up with comic book heroes who always know/feel that they’re doing the right thing. Their super powers may have made them immortal, but these are some very vulnerable and human people!! Very well written characters!!
The only negative thing I can say about this one is that it wasn’t long enough. Clocking in at barely 80 minutes, ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE definitely left me wanting more. I wanted to learn more about the heroes’ origins; I wanted to learn way more about Rickshaw and why he hated them so much; and I wanted to generally see more of everything. But I get the feeling that the length of the film wasn’t due to script limitations but was instead a result of budget restraints. But that’s okay in this case because Trost put together an amazing looking film that is expertly executed. It’s not often that a film comes along that blends two different genres together and does it so damn successfully. Don’t miss ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE. It’s currently playing on several VOD and digital service systems. Support this one because I wanna see a follow up!! I really enjoyed the hell outta this film.
Director: Jason Trost (& writer)
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer